5 ago. 2004

Dan Heller's Photos of 1950s American Classic Cars


Cars are probably the most valuable luxury items in Cuba, not to mention a necessity for some, and the skills and resources necessary to maintain a car not only provides the best job, but having such skills considered a well-kept secret, passed down from father to son through the generations. The Cubans consider the family car, and its clean-running engine, like a Frenchman or Californian thinks of his vineyard. Up until The Revolution in 1960, Cuba was the largest importer of American Cars, mostly the huge, gas-guzzling, multi-ton pile of metal that so many of us look back on today as a romantic relic of the past. After the embargo, Cuba has had cars from other countries -- most notably, Russia -- but few of them have ever been able to last but a few years. The American cars, however, have lasted through the years, and still run perfectly today. For most Cubans, this is their main source of revenue, since they can operate a taxicab, taking tourists around, and taking in up to $50/day in an economy where the average Cuban makes $15-25 a month. Of course, the cost of owning a car is high, especially with gasoline costing $4/gallon. But, with prices this high, it's not surprising to see a beautify gas station with a mini-mart and fresh, clean paint on the walls, popping out conspicuously from a scene of intense poverty along rural roads.

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